The work of Jetse Batelaan (1978) reflects a sympathetic view on human incompetence. Batelaan takes a naive and melancholy view of the world around him. The world of the unfortunate, of the poor soul plodding along, awkward at making contact, but loving. It makes for powerful and poetic performances. Jetse’s stage vocabulary is visually strong, imaginative, and clear. His approach is radical. When there is music, it will be performed live. When things are quiet, they are completely quiet. Batelaan draws directly on his own imagination. From an intuitive awareness of how other people think and what is on their minds he confronts viewers of all ages with plays that are completely associative. For him, acting is about imagination: not just playing characters, but also objects, moods, or landscapes. Realism alternates with surrealism. Actions occur in the heat of the performance. Time is a concept; how long can you keep something up? Jetse keeps his audience on the edge of their seats and makes sure his performances retain a sense of surprise to the end.
The punk attitude of a seven-year-old; I feel at ease with that. Children are perpetually confronted with authorities who decide what’s important for them. I like it when a play doesn’t honk its own horn, but when they think it is important.
Batelaan graduated from the Theatre Director’s Course at the Amsterdam School of the Arts. He has steadily been building on a remarkable body of work with a philosophical bent and an absurdly funny layer, both for grown-ups and for children. His appealing titles include Trees won’t be applauded until they become sawdust, The show in which hopefully nothing happens and A cowboy holding his hands up in the air probably isn’t cheering. Over a short period of time he has received a range of prizes, including the Young Theatre Award at the Theater aan Zee festival (real women…, 2001), the 2006 Erik Vos Award, a Gold Cricket award (The show in which hopefully nothing happens, 2006). For Please father, drink (2005) he received a VSCD Mime award. The judging panel, consisting of his peers, raved about his “completely new way of telling stories, with which he is not only enriching his own peculiar oeuvre, but Dutch theatre on the whole as well”. In 2003 he was awarded the Theateropdracht of the Prins Bernhard Fund.
Batelaan has made performances as a regular guest director for Theatergroep Max. and the mime company Bambie. From 2009 he worked at the Ro Theater. Internatioanlly, his star is also rising; some of the most renowned festivals both at home and abroad have presented work by Batelaan, including Oerol, Het Theaterfestival, Theaterfestival Boulevard, The New Island Festival (New York), Parc de la Villette (Parijs) and the Wiener Festwochen.
Since its foundation in 1990, Artemis has become one of the Netherlands’ leading youth theatre companies. With the arrival of artistic director Jetse Batelaan, in 2013, the company expanded its artistic horizon.